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Best Individual Marlins Pitching Seasons: The 2010s

Which of these arms impressed you most during the 2010-2019 campaigns?

After evaluating some of the best individual seasons for Marlins players in the organization’s history, it’s time to move on to our most recent decade: the 2010s. However, unlike the previous decades, which brought championship success, the 2010s brought in something much different. The franchise went through 2 fire sales, 8 different managers, 2 ownership groups, and a bunch of inconsistency during that span.

Nonetheless, through all of that, the Marlins still managed to bring up some generational talents; players such as Giancarlo Stanton, José Fernández, and Christian Yelich had an incredible impact in South Florida.

Let’s head back out to the mound and take a look at the Marlins pitchers who accumulated the most WAR in the 2010s:

Most Valuable Marlins Pitchers by fWAR, 2010-2019

Name ERA WAR
Name ERA WAR
Jose Fernandez 2.58 14.5
Josh Johnson 2.87 11.1
Anibal Sanchez 3.69 10.1
Ricky Nolasco 4.44 9.4
Nathan Eovaldi 4.1 5.3
Henderson Alvarez 3.23 4.8
Tom Koehler 4.46 3.6
Jose Urena 4.37 3.2
Chris Volstad 4.73 2.2
Dan Straily 4.2 2
Fangraphs

Josh Johnson makes another appearance in our article series as his 2010 season earned him an ERA title. Henderson Alvarez also had a great stint with the Fish, as he became one of 6 Marlins ever to throw a no-hitter, and the first one in Marlins park. And of course, José Fernández, probably the Marlins most talented pitcher ever, leads the list.

Josh Johnson, 2010

After his stellar 2009 season, Josh Johnson was rewarded with a 4-year, $39 Million dollar contract. In fact, his 2009 and 2010 campaigns might have been one of the best back to back seasons in Marlins history. In 2010, Josh put up a 2.30 ERA, the best ERA in the National League. He allowed only .3 HR/9, and accumulated an fWAR of 6.0. If it wasn’t for a back injury towards the end of the season which limited him to 28 starts, Johnson would have been the top candidate for the NL Cy Young award.

By July 28, Johnson had started 21 games for the Marlins. In that stretch of starts, Johnson only allowed more than 3 runs once. His start to the season was, simply put, remarkable. Take a look at Johnson’s monthly ERA for the 2010 season:

April—3.19

May—1.38

June—1.18

July—1.35

August—4.46

September—3.00

Johnson had three consecutive months—16 starts in total—where he kept his ERA under 1.50. With those numbers, the right hander was elected to his second consecutive All Star game, where he pitched 2 perfect innings. Interestingly enough, Josh struck out future Marlin Ichiro Suzuki and future Marlins CEO Derek Jeter.

Awards and Accomplishments:

  • All-Star
  • 5th in Cy Young voting
  • 25th in MVP voting
  • NL ERA Title
  • Best FIP in MLB
  • National League Pitcher of the Month (June)

José Fernández, 2013

José Fernández affected everyone in baseball one way or another, either striking out your favorite player or hitting a dinger against your favorite team or giving you a smile every 5th day he pitched. Jose was like no other, someone who passionately played the game and gave his 110% every time out with a smile on his face. He was a kid amongst adults, playing a kid’s game.

His 2013 season is one for the history books. Prior to the season, Fernández was ranked the 5th overall prospect in baseball, and due to injuries to starting pitchers Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi, the organization decided to add José to their 25-man Opening Day roster. In his first game in the bigs, José struck out 8 Mets and allowed only one run in 5 IP. That was the day the José Fernández era started for the Miami Marlins.

In 2013, El Niño posted a 2.19 ERA (second in the MLB), a 9.7 K/9, and a 2.73 FIP in 172.2 IP. On July 28th, Jose struck out 13 Pittsburg Pirate hitters; six days later, the right-hander struck out 14 Cleveland Indians, becoming only the 6th pitcher since 2000 to strike out 13 or more batters in consecutive starts.

Fish Stripes original GIF

After a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, Joe Maddon had a couple of comments about the Cuban flamethrower:

He was right.

As a 21 year-old-rookie, Jose Fernandez accumulated a 4.2 fWAR, which ranks as a top-10 season by any player 21 years-old or younger since 1900. José posted a 6.3 bWAR that year, meaning that his rookie season was the best in franchise history, even topping Hanley Ramirez’s monster 2006 (4.9 bWAR).

Fernandez’s greatness on the mound can be discussed for an eternity, but it was his personality that truly made him special. He radiated happiness like no one ever did.

Awards and Accomplishments:

  • Rookie of the Year
  • All-Star
  • 3rd in Cy Young voting
  • 2x National League Rookie of the Month (July, August)

Henderson Alvarez, 2014

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After José Fernández went down with Tommy John at the beginning of the 2014 season, someone had to take his place as the ace of the staff. Alvarez did just that.

Henderson posted the best season of his career in 2014, starting 30 games, posting a 2.65 ERA, a 3.58 FIP, and even though he did not strike many people out, he limited his walk per nine to a minute 1.6.

The Venezuelan pitcher had three complete game shutouts throughout the season, but none of them were as special as this one:

Henderson ended the season by accumulating a 4.7bWAR and 140 ERA+.

Awards and Accomplishments:

  • All-Star
  • 12th in Cy Young voting
  • Most Shutouts in NL

José Fernández, 2016

The road back from Tommy John was long and rough for José. When he came back in 2015, Fernández pitched 11 games and posted a 2.58 ERA, reminding baseball that he was still a bad, bad man.

In 2016, the organization was optimistic about the team’s chances to reach the playoffs. With a loaded outfield, a solid infield, and an average bullpen led by AJ Ramos, Fernández was the missing piece of the puzzle, and he didn’t disappoint.

The right-hander had a 2.86 ERA in 182.1 IP, racking up a whopping 253 strikeouts and a miniscule 55 walks. Fernández’s K/9 that year was the highest in the majors at 12.49 K/9; his pull percentage against was the lowest in the MLB at 33%. Those two statistics together are extremely rare, and it’s just one of the reasons why José was so special on the mound.

On September 20, 2016, the Cuban pitcher was phenomenal. In 8 IP, he allowed just three hits, no runs, and struck out 12 Nationals. After the game, his teammates quoted him, stating that he had told them it was the best game he had ever pitched in his career.

Little did any of us know it was gonna be his last one.

On September 25, 2016, South Florida, as well as the baseball community, suffered a huge loss. José Fernández was the heart and soul of the organization and, in the blink of an eye, he was gone. The smile that brought so much happiness to the baseball world was not there anymore.

With 29 starts under his belt, Fernandez played his way to a 6.3 fWAR, the highest of any pitcher in the majors.

Awards and Accomplishments:

  • All-Star
  • 7th in Cy Young voting
  • Led all pitchers in fWAR
  • 2nd-most strikeouts in the NL

Honorable Mentions: AJ Ramos, 2014; David Phelps, 2016; Steve Cishek, 2013.